Character Résumé: Parents of the Hero

If there’s one thing almost every hero has in common, it’s a lack of parents.

parents of the heroNot in the literal sense, but in most stories, especially ones with a sci-fi or fantasy bent, the parents of the hero tend to be obviously absent. Either gone, or killed, or removed for whatever reason.

  • Bilbo and Frodo
  • Harry
  • Luke
  • Rey
  • Flash
  • Superman

On and on the list goes, as long as the journey to Mount Doom.

Imagine if the parents of the hero (or heroine) were applying to the School of Storytelling with the hope of being cast in a story. What would their résumé look like?

I’m glad you asked. 😉

Résumé of the Hero’s Parents

Objective

We wish to gain an honorable place in whatever storyline will have us. Namely, the role of the nobody. By sending in this application, we realize the possibility that we are, in effect, writing out our last will and testament and signing up for death.

We take full responsibility should such outcomes occur. We’re willing to sacrifice any personal fame garnered from being one of the rare surviving parents of a hero for the sake of the story.

We’re also not opposed to having no part in the story at the outset, yet magically appearing (imagine that!) with the wonderful news that the hero does have parents.

Education (classical for people in our position)

  • How to die in a way that makes the biggest impact on other characters and audience alike
  • How to stir up more conflict
  • How to let go of our emotional connections to the hero
  • What to say and what not to say
  • How to be absent for long periods of time
  • How to infuse melodrama when necessary
  • How to shock hero in the event he discovers he actually has parents
  • How to raise an unassuming child
  • How to keep the hero from experiencing too much of the world before the call to adventure

Skills and Abilities

  • No strong inclination to remain in the story for any significant amount of time
  • Willing to travel, being gone except by name and in thought
  • Not afraid of premature death
  • Are fine with having no important role in the story, except perhaps in the form of memories on the part of the hero
  • Flourish when forced to remain hidden within the scope of the story
  • Ability to remain quiet
  • If needed to die during the course of the story, excel at creating dramatic, tear-jerking scenes
  • Deep love for the hero, making our absence that much more painful
  • In the unlikely event we survive, a gift for making life more difficult and complicated through our presence
  • If appearing later in story, the talent of concealing our true identities, even in the presence of the hero
  • Proficient in the arts of crying at opportune (and inopportune) times, imparting sage advice, and truly desiring what’s best for the hero
  • Willing to be parted from each other, as per standard requirements of some storylines

Experience

  • Thorough in most areas, except that of dying, though we’ve given much practice to that particular topic

References

  • M­ost villains who see it as a necessity to remove us and thus expose the hero
  • The hero we raised
  • We would provide more, but many of the people we knew—fellow parents—are no longer living

If you were applying for the position of parents of the hero, what would you put on your résumé? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Comments

Character Résumé: Parents of the Hero — 15 Comments

  1. I love this! I wrote a post once about the absentee parent phenomena in modern fiction (http://www.yaashamoriah.com/blog/the-absent-parents-of-modern-fiction-stories) but your resume’s humorous take might be even better. If you can make me literally laugh out loud, you’ve got my attention. 😉

    What would I put on my resume? Probably something like:
    * Will leave a diary with mysterious references and clues in some old attic so my heroic offspring will find it later at an important point in the quest; and
    * Will bequeath my sword/magical ring/lightsaber/other fantastic weapon to my offspring for the dramatic “coming of age” moment

    • Cool, Yaasha, I’ll have to check that out.

      Well, glad you found it LOL worthy. 😀

      Oooohhh. I LOVE those ideas. They fit so perfectly. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

    • Yaasha Moriah– The challenge in your blog post is such an intriguing one! To write a story where the parents are integral would be challenging and interesting…. It’s definitely going in my idea notebook! 🙂

    • Thanks, Elizabeth. It’s weird, isn’t it? I’ve heard some theories as to why that’s the case, the most compelling being that heroes without parents automatically gain our sympathy and we become more invested in their story because we care about them. Who can’t help but root for the orphan kid who’s vulnerable and parentless?

      Glad you stopped by. 🙂

      • It does make sense. I mean, even on the side of the writer, I know how much easier it is to write about a protagonist who has lost his or her parents. It seems to prep the character to be called out of their ordinary world since they are no longer living in comfort beneath their parents guidance.

        • Preparation for their calling. I hadn’t thought of it that way before but I see what you’re saying. And instead of looking to parents for guidance, they have to depend on the mentor (because what’s a story without a mentor character? 😛 ).

          It would be interesting to see a story where the parents were alive and there was tension between them and the mentor, so the protagonist was torn between who to follow.

          • I agree. That would make for a very interesting story! It has the possibility of really mirroring real life as kids grow up and develop into their own person outside of their parents household–deciding which of their parents traditions and beliefs they want to hold on to, and which they want to move on from. You should definitely write this. And if you don’t write it, I might! 🙂 lol.

            • Haha, maybe you should take it and run, then. I have enough ideas to last me until I’m as gray and wizened as Gandalf. 😛

              • Lol! I’m about the same (except for me, it’s more “as old and wizened as….” Wow, there really aren’t many nice old ladies in stories! I guess Professor Mcgonagall will have to do!). But if I get excited enough about a good plot, I may just bump the idea up to a spot nearer the front of the line. 🙂 I’m sure there will still be time though, if you change your mind and simply must have this idea!

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